High salaries, self-funded retirees and economic comfort.
A strong social conscience and a history of liberalism.
A town in crisis.
While the 80s and 90s saw the federal and state governments wage a hard line war on drugs in big cities and focus on cleaning up violent crime, the people of Cabot Cove suffered. This sleepy little fishing village with a population of 3,500 had a murder rate higher than Johannesburg – with more 2% of the populace falling victim to foul play.
This is a story about a town, its social problems, and its saviour: Jessica Beatrice Fletcher.
Fletcher began life teaching at Cabot Cove High. It was there that her disillusionment with the government began. Funding was down, students were going without what they needed, and teachers like her were left without the means to educate.
She frequently dipped into her own pockets to buy reading materials and lamented that her colleagues didn’t do the same. She was pro-community and felt frustrated by the lack of funding and intense bureaucracy she faced in trying to get any good done. Her vote for Carter in the 1978 Presidential race was the last time she would cast a vote for a Democrat for many, many years.
The 80s saw Fletcher’s economic circumstances change significantly. The success of her critically panned but best-selling novel, The Corpse Danced at Midnight, elevated her into a higher tax bracket. She welcomed the tax cuts from the Reagan administration, but still gave generously to charities supporting inner-city youth. “We need to do this,” she would often tell her good friend, Sherriff Amos Tupper, “because the government sure as hell will not help these kids out.”
It was her own motivation and disillusionment with government bodies that compelled Jessica to take matters into her own hands. Cabot Cove’s law enforcement and local government were at breaking point – with unlikely, isolated incident murders plaguing the community and causing confusion and widespread moral panic.
But complaining would get you nowhere, thought Fletcher. “Sometimes, we Americans have to roll up our sleeves, and get the job done,” she cried. “If I see an opportunity to help out my community, I’m going to do it – I’m going to shoulder my burden. We don’t need the government to save us and we certainly don’t need their red tape to hold back the cleaning up of Cabot Cove.”
This is the attitude that made America what it is today… and the attitude that compelled Jessica Fletcher to solve 268 murder cases, armed only with her intuition, charm and matronly instincts.
In the mid-80s, Fletcher became associated with local political groups and began campaigning for local Republicans in Congress. Using her sizable network and celebrity to endorse candidates, she secured the election of several Republicans, always careful to stay away from the crazies and focus on good, fundamental centrists with their hearts in the right place.
She even stepped into the fray, answering the Governor’s call to fill in for an unfortunately deceased Congressman for a few weeks – such was her respect and pull in the local party. That was as close as she’d ever get to ins and outs of the machine, and her brief encounter with the inner machinations of Maine’s legislature left her as befuddled and cynical as ever.
Jessica Fletcher made the world a better place. She saw problems and she fixed them – consequences be damned. She was a Republican, an American and a hero, and the people of Cabot Cove salute her today.